IRL: Virtual Ads to Become Part of Series Telecasts

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, March 15, 2000 - The Indy Racing Northern Light Series will become the first major motorsports series to use virtual advertising as a key component of its season-long national television race broadcasts, starting with the...

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, March 15, 2000 - The Indy Racing Northern Light Series will become the first major motorsports series to use virtual advertising as a key component of its season-long national television race broadcasts, starting with the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 on March 19 at Phoenix International Raceway.

In conjunction with Princeton Video Imaging, Inc., the Northern Light Series broadcast at 4 p.m. (EST) on ABC Sports will feature virtual advertisements that are inserted in the TV feed. The images will be "electronically painted" over the grandstands outside the 1-mile Phoenix oval's Turn 1, according to Sam McCleary, vice president of business development for PVI.

"The way the technology works is you have a very rapid video processor that can insert electronic images into a live television broadcast," said McCleary. "Those images can be anything you can render on a computer. They can be a two-dimensional flat image that looks like a sign, or a three-dimensional image that looks like a live object, or they can be video."

The technology will be used at all of the seven remaining Northern Light Series broadcasts this year, including the 84th Indianapolis 500 on May 28. ABC Sports or the ESPN network will televise all races live nationally.

PVI's technology will make the Indianapolis 500's international broadcast feed more lucrative, McCleary said, because international advertisers will be able to place their own advertisements in the programming.

"We found Indy Racing officials are open to change, understood new technologies and how to apply new technologies," said McCleary. "The series isn't afraid of new technology, and that is what makes working with it so great for a company like ours."

In addition to its Indy Racing involvement, PVI produces virtual advertisements and imaging for Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies, as well as ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball national broadcasts.

The company, based in Lawrenceville, N.J., also does imaging for the National Football League's international TV feeds and created the virtual first-down line that appeared on the CBS network games during the 1999-2000 NFL season.

"We take a great amount of pride in being at the forefront of technological applications that benefit our fans, sponsors and race teams," said Bob Reif, senior vice president of marketing and chief marketing officer for the Northern Light Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "As the 2000 season progresses, we are confident that virtual advertising will prove to be a lucrative exposure tool for corporations that do business with the Indy Racing Northern Light Series."

In 1998, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the first motorsports entity to use virtual advertising during ABC's broadcast of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Brickyard 400 event. The logos of the event's major corporate sponsors were emblazoned on the Speedway's infield thanks to technology developed by PVI.

MCI WORLDCOM INDY 200 NOTEBOOK

Schedule: The MCI WorldCom Indy 200 starts at 2 p.m. (MST) March 19. MBNA Pole Qualifying starts at 10:45 a.m. March 18. Practice sessions start at 10:45 a.m. and 2:40 p.m. (MST) March 17, 8:15 a.m. March 18 and 9:15 a.m. March 19.

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On the air: The MCI WorldCom Indy 200 will be televised live on ABC at 4 p.m. (EST) March 19. "Indy Racing 2Day" will be televised live at 11 a.m. March 19 on ESPN2.

ESPN2 will televise pole qualifying at 5:30 p.m. (EST) March 18.

The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 3:30 p.m. (EST) March 19, followed by the live race broadcast at 4 p.m. IRRN will broadcast a qualifying show at 4 p.m. March 18. The area IRRN affiliate is KMVP-AM 860.

The IRRN race broadcast also will be available live on the Internet at www.indyracingleague.com as part of a partnership between Indy Racing Online and Yahoo!/broadcast.com, the world's leading Web broadcast site.

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Tickets: Tickets for the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 are available by calling (602) 252-2227.

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Autograph party: Many Indy Racing drivers will participate in the "Indy & NASCAR Speedfest Drivers Party" March 16 at the Arizona Center in Phoenix.

Indy Racing cars will be on display from 3-8 p.m., and drivers will sign free autographs from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The fun, family-oriented event will include prizes, contests and live remotes by area television and radio stations.

-IRL/IMS-

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Series Automotive , IndyCar